Application & Admission

Admissions Requirements

The PhD in Complex Leadership Systems is designed for a broad range of self-directed, mid- and senior-career professionals holding leadership positions.

Eligibility requires a strong academic and professional background, and well-articulated objectives.

Those admitted must complete or will have completed:

  • DMgt in Strategic Leadership degree or an equivalent Doctorate with a dissertation
  • At least ten years of full-time, management- or executive-level, professional work

Application Requirements

Application to the PhD in Complex Systems Leadership must contain all of the following in order to be considered complete. Each requirement links to more information provided on this page.

Application for the Doctor of Philosophy in Complex Systems Leadership requires a completed program application form. Download form (PDF) or fill out the Online Application.

Your application must include a non-refundable application fee of $40 payable by check, made out to "Thomas Jefferson University." You may also pay by credit card through your WebAdvisor account or the online application portal.

Your application must include your current curriculum vitae (CV). This should list by year your educational, academic and professional practice backgrounds. It should include work positions and organizational affiliations, teaching or project research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations and other details.

The purpose of this document is to allow the admissions committee to evaluate how your background may impact your capacity to study and perform in the doctoral level complex systems leadership program.

Your application will include at least two essays addressing the topics described below. Please begin each essay on a separate page. Responses may be as long or as short as you feel necessary, but 250-750 words is the general range.

Each essay should demonstrate your writing skills, critical thinking, initiative and motivation, planning and organizational skills, and creativity and flexibility.

  • Essay 1: Present your reasons for applying to the Doctor of Philosophy in Complex Systems Leadership. Include factors, personal and professional, that influenced your career decisions and describe the future goals you hope to attain by completing your studies. Explain why you believe this is the right time for you to pursue this program.
  • Essay 2: Describe a personal achievement or experience that had a significant impact on your life. Describe or explain how the achievement or experience changed your understanding of yourself or your perception of others.
  • Essay 3 (Optional): If you believe your undergraduate or graduate transcripts submitted do not present an accurate picture of your anticipated performance in this doctoral degree program, please write an additional essay explaining why.

Applicants must submit transcripts of academic work (if you are an international student, see below for International Policy).

During the application process you may submit copies of unofficial transcripts from each school you have previously attended or are currently attending. Applicants are strongly encouraged to include a key/legend explaining the meaning and value of grades received.

If accepted, students will be required to provide official final transcripts of all previous academic work to verify the information provided. These must show the original record of your coursework (transfer credits as indicated on another school’s transcript are not accepted).

In order for a transcript to be considered official, they must fit one of the following requirements:

  • Original hard copy mailed to Thomas Jefferson University directly from the issuing institution
  • Copy with official stamp, seal and/or embossed marking, in a sealed envelope bearing the institution's stamp or seal (this may be sent from the applicant)*
  • Emailed transcript from official electronic delivery service from issuing institution

Many schools take a number of weeks to fulfill transcript requests, so please plan accordingly. Offers of admission are not binding until academic records are verified. If there are discrepancies between the self-reported academic work and official records, the offer of admission may be revoked. The school grading scale or other standards of evaluation, including minimum passing and failing marks and the definition of grades between them, should appear on official records or be provided as an attachment. You will be unable to register for courses until your final official transcript has arrived in our office.

*Copies, opened or unsealed envelopes, unofficial printouts or facsimiles will not be accepted.

Official transcripts should be sent to the following address:

Thomas Jefferson University 
Office of Graduate Admissions
Doctor of Philosophy in Complex Systems Leadership
4201 Henry Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation. Letters should come from individuals in a position to evaluate your professional and/or academic work, such as a supervisor, colleague or professor, who knows of your desire to enter the Doctor of Philosophy in Complex Systems Leadership program.

Each recommendation should address the following: (1) Context and professional relationship with the applicant; (2) Applicant’s willingness to take intellectual risks and go beyond “normal” organizational obligations; (3) Applicant’s distinctive competency, talent or leadership characteristics; (4) Applicant’s capacity for the discipline of doctoral-level performance; and (5) Applicant’s personality and social skills related to interaction with peers and supervisors.

Recommendation letters may be submitted by email (preferred) or by mail to the Graduate Admissions' information provided below.

All applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy in Complex Systems Leadership program must be interviewed by a member of the program staff. After you have received confirmation that your application materials have been received, the program office will contact you to discuss scheduling.

While face-to-face interviews are preferred, applicants who are applying from a location that makes travel to Philadelphia too difficult may schedule an interview that will be conducted by video-teleconference.

International applicants whose first language is not English or who have earned an undergraduate and/or a graduate or professional degree that was taught and evaluated in a language other than English must submit their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores to demonstrate English Proficiency.  For details please review the International Graduate Admission policies.

Please note that this requirement is rarely waived. We encourage applicants to take the test to avoid delays in completing the application.  The minimum TOEFL score is 79 and minimum IELTS score is 6.5. The TOEFL must be sent from ETS using the institutional code 2666.  To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the TOEFL website. Send a copy of your IETLS test scores to the Graduate Admissions office.

Upon review of an applicant's file, the Admissions Committee reserves the right to request TOEFL or IELTS scores.

International Transcript/Academic Record Policy

Official transcripts are required from each international institution attended in order to complete the application. If transcripts and diplomas are not issued in English by the institution, both the official record and an authorized English translation must be submitted. All translations should be complete and literal renditions of the original record. Records should show the following information:

  • Dates of enrollment
  • Courses taken
  • Units of credit or time allotted to each subject during each term or year
  • Marks or ratings in each subject
  • Degree earned and date awarded (if this is not listed on transcript, official degree certificate is also required)

The school grading scale or other standards of evaluation, including minimum passing and failing marks and definition of grades between them, should appear on official records or be provided as an attachment.

Records issued only once by institutions should be photocopied and certified as official copies either by school officials or legal authorities such as embassies or notaries public. These documents should be sent to in a sealed (unopened) and stamped envelope. Please do not send the original of an academic record that cannot be replaced.

All application materials should be:

Emailed to:

Or Mailed to: 

Thomas Jefferson University 
Office of Graduate Admissions 
Doctor of Philosophy in Complex Systems Leadership 
4201 Henry Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144